The Return of the Old Firm
Today, Rangers beat Celtic. It’s the first time that sentence has been written since 2012. It’s the first time it’s happened since the new chapter of Rangers’ illustrious history begun.
I don’t think I need to go into the background of what has happened to Rangers, the story has been repeated many times, both inside and out of sport. But now, the exile from the top flight is over. Rangers are back, and are hungry for more Old Firm clashes.
Way back when, the Old Firm was said to be hindering the development of Scottish football. It was said that Rangers’ relegation would help Scottish football improve. I’ve always disagreed, always believed it would just make it worse. Celtic’s existence would be pointless, and the competition would fade.
I think I’ve been proved right. Celtic’s European record since Rangers got relegated is shocking. It reads: first round of Champions League knock-outs, group stage of Champions League, last 16 of the Europa League, group stage of the Europa League.
The Bhoys have had it easy in the Scottish Premier League. They’ve won every title, and haven’t even been challenged in the final stages. They look unbeatable in the league, but in decline in Europe.
I wrote an article in 2013 saying that players would reject Celtic as their league had no competition. Why go to Scotland, where there is no rivalry and no chance of European success?
Even if players haven’t rejected them, it looks like Celtic have become complacent. The European record underlines this point. They don’t need to win the league, so why should they bother? They know they only need to give 50-60% each week and have fallen way behind in European competitions as a result.
Honestly? I hope they lose the league next year. I hope Rangers win, and I hope Celtic get shown up.
However, one thing is for sure: Celtic will get more competitive. Now they have their old rival back, everything has more point to it. And that, that has to be good for Scottish football.
Celtic fans, strangely, still don’t see this, but Rangers’ liquidation was the worst thing that could possibly happen for domestic football in Scotland. It’s created an absolutely pointless league which is decided before it begins. No team has stood up and taken on the Rangers role, and Celtic have gone backwards. Rangers sending Celtic a message by beating them today might just be what Celtic need, to inspire and encourage them to actually work hard to defend their title next season.